It is already helping parent firm Tata Motors financially, but British marquee brands Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) are open to supplying engines to the Indian company to help address its lack of cutting-edge technology.
Tata Motors has been struggling to sell cars in recent times in the Indian market due to perceptions of archaic products that are unreliable and uncompetitive. JLR said it may supply its small 2-litre 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines that its is currently developing in the UK, and these may fit into some of Tata’s sports utility vehicles — the segemnt that has been seeing action in the Indian market in recent times.
“We are open for synergies but if we look at the segments we operate in, there is not much scope for outright joint product development,” said Ralf Speth, CEO, Jaguar Land Rover. “They are a capable small car maker and we are not experts at that. But in terms of technology, engines... we can have commonalities. We can deliver engines to them for sure, including the smaller ones that we are developing.”
Tata’s range of SUVs such as the Sumo, Safari and the Aria all use engines that are as big or bigger than 2,000cc, and potentially, can benefit from the new range being developed by JLR.
Led by the SUVs, Tata has seen its sales decline by 24% in the 2012-13 fiscal, and dropped to the fifth position behind Toyota in February in the pecking order for passenger vehicles in India.
The company posted a record standalone net loss of Rs. 458.49 crore for October-December, 2012, against a profit of Rs. 174 crore in the year-ago period. JLR’s profits during the quarter saved the blushes for the parent firm, allowing it to report a consolidated net profit of Rs. 1,636 crore.
“The automotive industry is cyclical in nature, and what Tata Motors is experiencing in India is not something very unnatural. A lot of European car companies are facing similar tough times as well,” Speth said.
Jaguar Land Rover’s own future has never looked rosier. It showcased the new Range Rover Sport at the New York Motor Show earlier this week, and this will be followed by the F-type, billed as Jaguar’s most important car in half a century. At least six more products will be launched during the year.
Speth himself admitted that the product pipleline was expanding faster than envisaged. Even then, JLR wants to steer clear of the numbers game.
“We are clear, we are not in the volume game,” he said. “We are still small compared to the others (BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz). We have a strong product pipleline and will address a lot of areas where we are not present. But we cannot be doing too many things at the same time. And cannot be complacent.”